What is the employed Bar?

Employed barristers work in a number of different types of organisations:

  • BSB entities, which are authorised by us to provide legal services.
  • Authorised non-BSB bodies, such as firms regulated by the SRA or other approved regulators to undertake reserved legal activities.
  • Non-authorised bodies that have in-house counsel, such as commercial companies, local authorities and government bodies.

Barrister training within the employed Bar

Many organisations are unaware that they can offer barrister training and there is a misconception that pupillage/work-based learning must be completed within chambers.

In fact, there are many organisations within the employed Bar already authorised to deliver pupillage/work-based learning. All of the above types of organisations are amongst those already authorised to deliver work-based learning, providing an interesting variety of opportunities for exposure to other legal/non-legal professions. Some of these organisations train both barristers and solicitors - there is mutual benefit to both pupils and other trainees working and learning alongside each other. Larger organisations are able to ‘rotate’ supervision during the training period to expose pupils to different areas of the law and legal practice. Smaller organisations have found commercial benefit in establishing their own in-house counsel.

Pupil Supervisors in the employed Bar

Organisations within the employed Bar must ensure that they are able to meet the requirements for supervising pupils. Pupil supervisors must normally be practising barristers. We understand that not all law firms and legal practices have in-house counsel, and we would welcome a discussion with you if that were the case for your organisation but you are interested in training pupils. Pupil Supervisors must be trained in accordance with the outcomes (and frequency) set out in Part 4B of the Bar Qualification Manual.

Pupil Supervisors in the employed Bar are not limited to taking one pupil at a time. We can allow greater flexibility and bespoke supervision arrangements, subject to the authorisation process.

Secondments between Chambers and other organisations

Both the employed Bar and self-employed Bar can benefit from secondment arrangements, which expose pupils to different working practices, a wider range of work experience that an AETO alone can offer and an opportunity to practise advocacy skills that may not otherwise be available. They can also help to build beneficial commercial and working relationships between organisations.

The main area of risk that arises when entering into such arrangements is likely to be the possible conflict of interest arising from casework. We would expect pupillage/work-based learning providers both to have a clear policy and documentation for pupils to declare any perceived or likely conflicts of interest. For example, a pupil seconded from the CPS to a criminal set should not have any prior knowledge or involvement with cases being handled by the criminal set and should disclose any cases as soon as they become aware. Similarly, a pupil within the HMRC may have knowledge of clients being represented by a private legal firm or chambers. We would expect the pupillage/work-based learning providers to have measures in place to identify and prevent any possible conflicts of interest early on.

For longer secondments, we normally expect pupillage/work-based learning providers both to be authorised as AETOs and to agree in advance how the training and appraisal of competence will be managed during the secondment. The lead AETO must have copies of any training and appraisal documentation to be able to effectively sign off a pupillage. The organisation offering the secondment should keep an accurate training record for the secondee and submit that to the lead AETO at the end of the secondment.

It is important that any specific areas for development are agreed by the pupil and supervisors within both AETOs.

Secondments are covered in Part 4J of the Bar Qualification Manual.

The MyBar portal and applying for authorisation

MyBar is the online self-service portal for barristers, barristers' employees and some students to access professional benefits such as the ID Card Scheme, and to update details and pay fees, including for Bar Council training courses and events. It also provides prospective AETOs with access to the online application portal.

You will need an active MyBar account to apply for authorisation. If you do not have access, you can arrange for an account to be set up and your MyBar and login details issued to you by contacting the Authorisations Team. You do not need to be a barrister for this purpose.

Becoming Authorised as a pupillage/work-based learning provider (AETO)

Applying for authorisation is straightforward with a designated MyBar account, which our Authorisations Team can set up for you if you do not already have one. You can access the online application form via our website portal, MyBar. We have published guidance for prospective pupillage/work-based learning providers which you may find helpful when responding to the questions or providing supporting documentation.

Applicants do not need to draft a new suite of policies where relevant organisational policies already exist. In fact, organisations in the employed Bar are likely to have a suite of policies for their employed staff already that may not need to be amended for the purpose of taking on pupils (eg equality, diversity & inclusion policy, grievance policy, and disciplinary policy).

Other examples of the types of documents we may ask to see in support of an application include:

  • Training contract
  • Advertising and recruitment policy
  • Induction programme
  • Training programme
  • Supervision and appraisal documents

If you are not sure whether your policies are suitable then we are happy to discuss this with youThe application process is designed to be supportive, and you should expect to have regular engagement with the Regulatory Officer responsible for assessing your application.

The process can take up to three months to complete, and for us to issue a decision letter and AETO Agreement once authorisation has been granted. You should not advertise pupillage/work-based learning vacancies until your authorisation has been confirmed.

The application form

The application form and associated questions have been designed to assess whether an organisation is equipped and able to deliver a training programme which meets the four principles (Flexibility, Accessibility, Affordability and High Standards) of the Authorisation Framework and outcomes for each component of Bar training, which can be found in the Curriculum and Assessment Strategy (pages 25 to 34 relate to work-based learning). As such, the form is comprehensive and has been set up in sections which can be completed in isolation of each other, allowing applicants to save their answers without completing the whole questionnaire in one ‘sitting’. The form also allows you to cut and copy text from elsewhere and upload relevant documents to support your application. Further technical guidance to support you with your application is available on our website.

Supporting statements and documentation

When responding to the questions you should refer to the published guidance for prospective pupillage/work-based learning providers or contact the Authorisations team for an informal chat if you are unclear on whether you meet the requirements.

You should ensure that your answers demonstrate how you intend to meet the criteria and what documentation/toolkit you will use to support this.

Example answer

Our firm has been delivering Solicitor Training Contracts for over 10 years and following a recent expansion we now employ 5 barristers as in-house counsel. It is our intention to deliver barrister pupillage alongside those training contracts exposing both trainee solicitors and pupil barristers to litigation and advocacy. Our firm is growing and there is work available for pupils once they have qualified with us.

We have developed our pupillage training programme by mapping our current training and appraisal documents to your Curriculum and Assessment Strategy. The programme and training and appraisal documentation is attached and we would refer you to section 1 paragraph 3 in support of this statement.

If the assessing officer needs further information or clarification, they will contact you directly.

What happens if you are asked for additional information

Asking for further information is not an indication that you will not be authorised. It may be that you are proposing a new type of training programme which contains something innovative or unusual that we need to understand better. If this is the case, we will seek assurance that your organisation has taken appropriate steps to mitigate any risk that we have identified. In other cases, you may simply have referenced a document in your answer which has not been uploaded.

In most instances a conversation with the assessing officer is sufficient to resolve any questions we have.

Other factors which may impact on a decision

As a regulator we have a duty to protect the interests of the public and to consider any information which may pose a risk to the public. It is essential, therefore that training providers are able to deliver pupillage/work-based learning to the required standard and that newly qualified barristers are competent to enter practice. During the assessment, we may become aware of historic disciplinary matters which we would need to discuss with you before taking a decision. If you wish to discuss any concerns you have about your suitability to provide pupillage/work-based learning, do contact us for an informal chat before applying.

Also of interest:

Employed Bar pupillage provider FAQs